Substance Abuse Treatment Across the U.S.

Here’s how the states stack up on professional treatment.

Substance Abuse Treatment Across the U.S.

Substance abuse is a very serious matter. One glass of wine may be harmless, until it’s not. We all like to think that ourselves and our loved ones have control over our alcohol consumption and drug usage, but unfortunately that’s not always the case.

With dangerous substances, things can get out of hand before you even realize it. At that point, the problem builds on top of itself until it’s entirely uncontrollable. It easy to say “I could stop at any point” and then never actually take actions to follow through with these statements.

Oftentimes professional treatment is the only solution to escaping this dangerous path. No matter how severe the problem is or what led a person to be addicted to substances, it’s hard to have control over your behaviors when your addiction is controlling your actions. Even friends and family often can’t get through to these individuals.

But access to substance abuse treatment is not the same in every state in America. There are many different factors that go into whether or not an individual ultimately receives the help they need to escape from addiction.

Maryland and Connecticut have some of the highest rates of admission to substance abuse treatment in the nation. These states have approximately 2,923 and 2,222 admissions of people aged 12 and up per 100,000 people annually, respectively. This value reaches as low as 128 admissions per 100,000 people in New Mexico.

High admission rates to substance abuse treatment are not necessarily a bad thing. While yes, it indicates that there is a large population that have problems severe enough to seek out professional treatment, it also means that those individuals are receiving the help they desperately need.

Admission rates are not the same as prevalence rates. Another state could have just as high of a drug abuse problem as Maryland or Connecticut, but the people there are simply struggling on their own, thus going undocumented and untraceable in their addiction.

Another important consideration is the effectiveness of these programs. Not all substance abuse programs are the same—some simply work better than others. Colorado appears to have the most successful programs in the nation with 76.4% discharges due to completion of the program. Other notable states with high-performing patients include Florida, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

Unfortunately, not all programs can boast this same accomplishment. Louisiana has one of the lowest success rates across the US. 76.3% of discharges in this state are due to drop outs, in which the patient did not successfully complete their program and will continue to struggle with their addictions. On the bright side, Louisiana has by far the worst success rate with only one other state (Arizona) failing over 50% or majority of patients.

Of course, geography aside, access to treatment is not an equal playing field for all those who need it. People may not know they have a problem, may not have the resources to seek professional treatment, or may simply hide their problem in fears of being labeled or looked down upon.

Ultimately, it’s in our hands to take away the stigma of seeking treatment. Like many other treatments including mental health, eating disorders, etc., substance abuse treatment comes with a slew of attitudes and opinions formed by public perception.

If society is able to create a more open, welcoming environment for those hoping to receive substance abuse treatment, people may be more willing to seek it out. This treatment is often the only hope for individuals addicted to substances, so it’s our responsibility to make this pathway as accessible as possible in order to ensure that everyone receives equal opportunity to recover that they deserve.

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Pam Jannes
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